Expansion Strategies for a Challenging Campus Site

by Stanley Collyer
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Winning proposal by Office 52 (courtesy ©Office 52)
Already ranked as one of the top engineering programs in the U.S., Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is hardly resting on its laurels. Scott Hall, anew Nano‐Bio‐Energy Technologies building scheduled for completion in early 2016, will undoubtedly enhance the University’s standing as a cutting edge research institution. Contrary to most curricula in the field of engineering, Nanotechnology is not based on a narrowly defined area of study; rather it is interdisciplinary in nature and can span the sciences and even reach into the arts. As a landlocked campus, a major challenge facing Carnegie Mellon is finding space for the construction of new facilities. The site chosen for Scott Hall in 2011 was at the western edge of the historic campus property, perched at the top of a neighboring ravine, Junction Hollow, and barely separated from three adjacent buildings. Although the campus master plan had already pinpointed a location for the new building, the University conducted a design competition to explore alternative solutions to a challenging site and a demanding interdisciplinary program. Read more...

More Variations on a Theme in Dessau?: Germany’s Third Post-War Competition for a Bauhaus Museum

by Stanley Collyer

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First prize by Young & Ayata with Misako Murata (image courtesy Bauhaus Museum)

Germany is not about to let the world arts community forget about the unique role played by the Bauhaus movement in the evolution of modern art and architecture. There is already a Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, moved there from Darmstadt in 1971, and the building it now resides in was completed in 1979. It is hardly recognizable from Walter Gropius original 1964 intended design, except for the shed roofs. Since the Berlin Archive can only accommodate 35% of the institution’s holdings, a competition was staged there in 2005 to expand the capacity of the site. The invited architects for that competition were Diener & Diener (Basel), Nageli Architekten (Berlin), SANAA (Tokyo), Sauerbruch & Hutton (Berlin) UN Studio (Amsterdam), and Volker Staab (Berlin). SANAA was chosen as the winner, but the City withdrew its support from that project in the wake of the world economic crisis in 2009. In 2012 a Bauhaus Museum competition took place in Weimar, where the Bauhaus was originally founded under Gropius in 1919. That competition was won by the Berlin architect, Heike Hanada, with Benedict Tonon. The new building, which will replace the existing Bauhaus Museum in Weimar, is to be completed by 2018. After the Bauhaus moved from Weimar to Dessau, where the Bauhaus resided until the 1930s when the Nazis came to power and where the main building by Walter Gropius has achieved iconic status, a recent international competition for its own Bauhaus Museum took place. Although one may assume a lot of overlay between these three museums as to exhibits, the plan for the new museum in Dessau could be deemed somewhat of a logical move, as the present school is still located there, setting the tone for the ‘international style’ we now are so familiar with. The Competition Contrary to what one might have anticipated, the Dessau competition did not choose a site for the new museum near the present school, but instead envisioned a downtown location for it in a park-like setting. This was an open, international competition, and the organizers were not disappointed with the size of the interest. What was surprising, was that the top four premiated entries were all from abroad, with the two first place winners from Barcelona and New York. Not surprisingly, with the exception of the one first place winner from the U.S., all of the others were variations on easily recognizable themes out of the Bauhaus annals. Since the Bauhaus was not only about architecture, but also art, one might understand the top, contrasting choices in architectural expression as representations of both disciplines—one having very functional, straightforward lines, the other more whimsical in the manner of an organic biological creation. Jurying a competition with this challenging subject matter could hardly have been easy.

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Reinventing the Rustbelt: UD4U Urban Design Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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1st Place entry "High Res," by Lasha brown, Sandra Arndt, Emilija Kaia Landsbergis, and Robert Hon

As a mid-sized rustbelt city in the Midwest, Kenosha, Wisconsin was especially hard hit by auto plant closings. First it was the American Motors plant in 1988. Then, to compound matters, the Chrysler Engine plant closed in 2010. Such closings not only resulted in the loss of high-paying jobs, but left a desolate void in the urban fabric. Some of these vacant spaces have recently become the object of design competitions, staged with the intention of generating ideas to reinvigorate abandoned areas. One of these was the Redesigning Detroit competition, focused on the previous site of Hudson’s Department Store in the city’s central business district (2013 COMPETITIONS Annual). ÂÂ ÂÂ

More recently, UD4U, a Chicago-based non-profit, staged a planning competition for the abandoned Chrysler engine plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The site, located in the city less than a mile from Lake Michigan and would seem to be an ideal location for housing and other similar projects. This was a large, open site—107 acres—surrounded mostly by detached residential housing. The location of eight schools within one-half mile attests to the residential density of the area surrounding the site. Since the plant closing, the structures have been demolished, and only the concrete slab surface remained from what at once was a productive industrial plant.

Chrysler Plant map
Crystler Plant Site

The competition was international and "open to professionals and students of all countries, with the requirement that they either be in, or previously graduated from, a professional/registered university with a degree in one of the following: architecture, urban design, urban planning, landscape architecture, or engineering. Participants of the competition were asked to create their vision of what the site should become. The program was completely open, so the use and function of the structures, open spaces, etc. was completely up to each team. However, every team was asked to address 4 aspects that are vital to the site being a success and beneficial for the community." Those 4 aspects were: • history of the site and city • the site’s surrounding urban fabric • industries of Kenosha • transportation options. The problem with many of these abandoned manufacturing sites is their environmental history. They normally would require a massive cleanup, and, as “hot sites,” may never be regarded as a location for a viable project. In Kenosha, $10M has been set aside for a cleanup of the site, and, at this writing, the remediation process has already begun. As has occurred with other similar sites in Kenosha, it is assumed that local, state, and federal government entitities will contribute additional funds as needed until the cleanup process is complete. All that aside, the very nature of the size and location of the site made it ideal subject matter for an ideas competition. And, although this was just an ideas competition, it provided a number of workable ideas for the site and could give the city fathers some food for thought. The jury was made up of three outside experts and three members of UD4U:

• Andrew Moddrell, Director of PORT
• Christine Carlyle, Urban Planner
• Andrew Vesselinovitch, City Traffic Planner
• Elizabeth Fallon, UD4U, Architect
• Matthew Clapper, Planner, UD4U Principal and Founder
• Kaleb Quirin, UD4U Project Manager

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The Biennial Lakefront Kiosk Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning entry by Ultramoderne

ÂÂÂÂÂ Ki-osk: 1. in Turkey and Persia an open pavilion; 2. a building of similar construction such as a newsstand, etc. What is a Biennial with architecture as the central theme without a competition?

The Chicago Biennial not only has invited a number of high profile architects from around the world to participate in various events stretching over several months, but looked for a suitable theme and site to showcase what modern architecture is all about. They settled on a Kiosk Competition on the city’s lakeshore next to Millennium Park, a high traffic area in all but the winter months. There are to be four kiosks—one to be the result of the competition—and all are to be permanent structures. It is no surprise that scores of kiosks are already commonplace on Chicago’s lakeshore, taking advantage of the streams of summer visitors who are drawn to the shore of Lake Michigan. Overseen by the Chicago Park District, over forty kiosks punctuate the shoreline, which during the summer offer food, retail, and recreational services—ranging from beverages to clothing to surf rentals.

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The shoreline of Lake Michigan has always played a central role in Chicago’s urban identity. During the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, architect Daniel Burnham sought to incorporate the lake into the fairgrounds, and his 1909 Plan for Chicago proposed to reclaim the entire length of the lakefront as a place of leisure for all inhabitants of the city—an idea realized during the 20th century. Today, the lakefront is a celebrated and heavily used public space that is a major destination for both visitors and local residents. It features over twenty miles of public parks and beaches, as well as pedestrian and cycling routes.

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The Competition

Organized in partnership with the Chicago Park District and the City of Chicago, The Lakefront Kiosk Competition issued a call for an inventive design of a new kiosk to be installed on the lakefront. The competition attracted wide interest, both domestically and internationally: 421 entries were received from 40 countries. The winning competition entry and the three commissioned kiosks are to be displayed in Millennium Park during the Chicago Architecture Biennial (October 2015 – January 2016). Instalation of all four kiosks on the lakefront is scheduled for the spring of 2016.

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The competition’s announced winner, Ultramoderne, received the BP Prize, which includes a $10,000 honorarium and a $75,000 budget to realize the design.

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The competition jury was comprised of:

David Adjaye, Adjaye Associates, London, U.K. Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang Architects, Chicago Joseph Grima, Chicago Architecture Biennial Sarah Herda, Chicago Architecture Biennial Sharon Johnston, Johnston Marklee and Associates, Los Angeles Michael J. O’Brien, BP, Chicago Rob Rejman, Chicago Park District

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Designing for the Workplace: UNO/WHO Headquarters Extension Competition

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning entry by Berrel Berrel Kräutler AG (image courtesy BBK)

For all its perceived shortcomings, the United Nations Organization (UNO) can make a good case for its approach to the design of its facilities located in Geneva, Switzerland. Leading up to the most recent competition for the Headquarters Extension of the WHO offices, it staged three successful competitions: • For the 1966 World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters building, won by Swiss architect, Jean Tschumi; • For the 2000 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) building, won by the German firm, Behnisch Architekten; • For the 2006 WHO/UNAIDS building, won by the Austrian firm, Baumschlager & Eberle As the principal anchor of the WHO headquarters complex, the 1966 building, now over a half century old, has not only seen the deterioration of its basic mechanical systems and programmatic changes, but has not kept pace with the needs generated by the world’s health crisis. This necessitated the on-site construction of seven temporary or precast structures, none of which were the result of any architectural guidelines or urban planning and did not conform to present code standards. Studies undertaken by the client indicated that future requirements of the organization would be best served by eliminating the seven temporary/precast structures and undertaking the construction of a brand new building to facilitate the incorporation of the various programs in closer proximity, while completely retrofitting the 1966 structure. According to the study, “the analysis showed that it would be possible to reduce the energy consumption of the HQ site in Geneva of 8.25 Kwh/year to potentially 3.37 Kwh/year by investing more in high quality long-term energy efficient solutions, which would consequently result in potentially important cost savings in the HQ operating budget over the next 40-year lifecycle.” The competition brief outlined seven requirements, which had to be included in the design of the new building: • The new building is to accommodate a minimum of 770 work places (administration, office spaces); • Reception, exhibition and entertaining spaces; • Conference space (with a capacity for 500 to 600 people, divisible into four rooms, which could be used simultaneously); • “SHOC room” area • Underground garage with 500-700 parking spaces • Archives and technical services The success of this concept was dependent on phasing, which foresaw more of the programs moved to the present Main Building during demolition and construction of the new building. With the completion of the new building, programs could be moved into that structure, while the Main Building was undergoing renovation. The Competition The design competition for the new building was run according to Swiss competition rules, with anonymity being maintained during both the first and second stages. An international jury was impaneled, and the jury had to sign off on the competition brief before the competition launch. According to the competition brief, “The Jury shall approve the regulations, specifications and program of the competition, and shall answer queries from the candidates. It shall assess the competition proposals, decide on their ranking, and award the prizes and any awards. It shall produce a report on its final decision and issue recommendations for further action.” The Jury thus signed up for a comprehensive set of obligations, in excess of what is usually required of most juries, and indicating that this competition was not only well conceived, but well financed in light of the time demands required of the panel. The First Stage jury* was composed of: Mr. Dominique Perrault (Chair) Architect, France Members: Dr Mariyam Shakeela: WHO EB, Chair of the Executive Board Dr Margaret Chan: WHO, Director-General Dr Hans Troedsson: WHO, Assistant Director-General –

Mr. Alexandre Fasel: Mission of Switzerland (DFAE), Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland

Mr. François Reinhard: FIPOI, Director Mrs. Isabel Girault: Canton of Geneva, Director-General, Urban Planning Department Mr. Bernard Tschumi: Architect, USA Mrs. Momoyo Kaijima: Architect, Japan Mr. Diébédo Francis Kéré: Architect, Burkina Faso Mr. Bernard Kouhry: Architect, Lebanon Mr. François de Marignac: Architect, Switzerland Mrs. Julia Zapata: Architect, Switzerland To satisfy entry requirements, architects not only had to establish their credentials as registered architects, but also pay a registration fee in the amount of CHF 250 or 200 €. It can probably be assumed that the size of this registration fee was intended not only to attract firms with considerable resources, but also discourage small firms from participating and keep the numbers of entries at a manageable level. As a result, 327 paid registrations were received, and 253 entries were submitted and deemed complete and presented for preliminary review, excluding two entries, which were identified as identical and submitted twice. From the latter, The shortlisted teams for participation in the Second Stage were to receive CHF12,000 in compensation. The top-ranked teams were also to receive substantial prize money.

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The Guggenheim Helsinki Competition Draws 1,715 Entries From Around The World

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Winning Entry by Moreau Kusunoki Architectes

The Guggenheim Helsinki Winners on Stage in New York by Jayne Merkel

 

Staging a completely open, international competition for one of their museum projects marked a significant departure for the Guggenheim Foundation. The Bilbao Museum had been an invited competition won by Frank Gehry, and the more recent Whitney Museum project in New York was a Renzo Piano commission. So the Helsinki Guggenheim project—though without any guarantee from the Finns that it will be built—was open to all comers, completely absent of shortlisting based on size of office or any history of built projects. But this was Finland, and that Scandinavian country is known for opening up important projects to international competitors—the most recent Helsinki Library and Serlachius Museum competitions being prime examples.

The soothing circular auditorium beneath the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Guggenheim Museum was an unusually suitable setting for the revelation of the winning design for the proposed Helsinki Guggenheim and a discussion of the process that led to its selection. On July 1, the winners of the competition, Hiroko Kusunoki and Nicolas Moreau, of Moreau Kusunoki Architectes in Paris, took turns describing their scheme as they showed an impressive series of drawings and models. After their presentation, they joined a discussion, moderated by Architectural Record Editor Cathleen McGuigan, with Guggenheim staff members Ari Wiseman and Troy Conrad Therrien. Wiseman, a Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, has shepherded the competition from the conception stage in 2013. Therrien, the Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives, has created the state-of-the-art digital archive that has brought this competition and its entries into the public domain. Although their English was sometimes halting, Kusunoki and Moreau managed to explain the thinking process that brought their scheme into being with a charming combination of confidence and modesty. Then they showed a few other projects they have already managed to build at their young firm. The couple met in Tokyo, where Kusunoki worked for Shigeru Ban after graduating from the Shibaura Institute of Technology there. Moreau, who was educated at l’École Nationale d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, started out at SANAA, where he worked on the New Museum in New York, then joined Kengo Kuma and Associates. The two paired up to start a Parisian office for Kuma in 2008 and formed their own firm three years later.

 

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From left: Jan Wurm, technical team leader, ARUP; Hiroko Kusunoki, Principal, Moreau Kusunoki Architectes; Nicolas Moreau, Principal, Moreau Kusuonoki Architects; Pekka Pakkanen, Architect, Huttunen Lipasti Pakkanen Architects. Photo: Ritta Supperi

 


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Mesa’s Answer to Urban Sprawl: The Major Redesign of a City Center

 

by Stanley Collyer

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Winning Entry - Image courtesy Colwell Shelor
Designing a city plaza as a “people place” is no small challenge. One only has to recall the various redesigns that Pershing Square in Los Angeles went through, or Seattle’s Pioneer Square, to recognize how intent and reality were often in conflict. In both of these temperate climate municipalities, the image of an otherwise welcoming destination was tarnished by an unforeseen presence of the homeless. The City of Mesa, in sunny Arizona, believes that a new plaza, well connected to the surrounding urban environment, can present “a signature public space” that will not only serve as a destination for public activities, but also as a catalyst for downtown revitalization. It would appear that a number of favorable conditions already exist: city administration buildings are located directly within the two block site area; Arizona’s largest art center borders the area to the south; and the city library is in the block immediately facing the site to the north. With this kind of built-in pedestrian activity, the site should be well positioned to attract a higher-than-average number of locals and visitors. To flesh out the best design for the 18.3-acre site, the City decided to stage an invited design competition. The first step was a call for expressions of interest, to which 18 firms responded. Of these, three were shortlisted to compete in the subsequent design competition. The competing teams were undoubtedly aware of the passage of a $70M City bond issue, which is allowing Mesa to allot $750,000 for design of the plaza site. Because this was a real project, each firm was to receive $25,000 upon completion of their entry. Under the supervision of Jeffrey McVay, a planner and the Manager of Downtown Transformation, a committee made up of principals from the City administration with only one exception—the Director of the Downtown Mesa Association—convened to arrive at a shortlist for the competition. It consisted of:
  1. Jeffrey McVay, AICP – Manager of Downtown Transformation
  2. Christine Zielonka – Director, Development and Sustainability Department
  3. John Wesley, AICP – Planning Director, Mesa
  4. Marc Heirshberg, CPRE – Director, Parks, Recreation, and Commercial Facilities
  5. Cindy Ornstein – Director, Arts and Culture
  6. Zac Koceja, RLA – Landscape Architect, Engineering Department
  7. Vincent Bruno – Engineering Designer, Engineering Department (At time of competition, he represented the Transportation Department)
  8. Lori Gary, CEcD – Project Manager, Office of Economic Development
  9. David Short – Executive Director, Downtown Mesa Association

The selected finalists were:ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ
• Woods Bagot, Sydney/Portland (lead) with Surface Design, INC., San FranciscoÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ
• Colwell Shelor, Phoenix (lead) with West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, Rotterdam/New York and Weddle Gilmore, Scottsdale, Arizona
• Otak, San Francisco (lead) with Mayer Reed, Portland, Oregon ÂÂ

This initial phase of the competition was replete with site visits and public forums and left no stone unturned when it came to interaction between the competing firms and the client and public. The City thought this phase of the process worked well, and the Colwell Shelor team was especially active in fielding public input during this phase. Each team then had to translate those public priorities into a feasible design concept. As they say, this is where the rubber hits the road.

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Return of a Favorite Son to the Windy City? – CAC’s Barack Obama Library Competition

 

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Winning entry by Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang (all images courtesy of the CAC)

During the 2008 presidential campaign, there was the perception that a Barack Obama presidency would usher in an era of new ideas. Years later, there has been some isolated progress, but partisan politics has limited any wiggle room an Obama presidency might have enjoyed. Still, there is a hope for a final decision by this president that could set a precedent for the foreseeable future: a design competition for a presidential library. A successful national competition for such a project could set an example to be emulated many times over at state and municipal levels by a tested democratic process.

 

Although the site of a Barack Obama Presidential Library has not yet been determined, the list has been whittled down to three possibilities: Chicago, New York and Hawaii. Although Hawaii is the President’s birthplace, and New York would have a large number of visitors, Chicago would seem to be the logical favorite, as it is the place where Obama’s political future began in its meteoric rise, culminating in his election to the nation’s highest office.

 

A lot has happened in Chicago as both government and the University of Chicago have taken steps to prepare for the city’s bid. A recent article has described aggressive real estate purchases by the University starting in 2008, including an entire block along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. These could well be attributed to future expansion plans by the University into an adjoining neighborhood, near Washington Park. But many see these real estate acquisitions as part of a strategy to assure the library’s location near the university, where Obama briefly taught in the Law School before going to Washington. In any case, the City also regards the Washington Park and Jackson Park locations on the South Side as the most logical sites for the library.

With the prospect of a presidential library in Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Club (CAC) could not resist staging an ideas competition with the design of an Obama library as the design challenge. As the 2014 Chicago Architecture Prize, this has become an annual event for the CAC, and this time they picked an obvious subject as a winner. Aside from a designated site on the Chicago River, the program was flexible, and participants were asked to fill in the blanks themselves. Although the prize money was relatively modest, the subject matter had to be tantalizing for potential participants. The jury was local, consisting of architects from several of the city’s major firms:

• Andy Metter (Epstein)

• Brian Lee (SOM)

• Dan Wheeler (Wheeler Kearns Architects)

• Elva Rubio (Rubio Studio)

• Geoffrey Goldberg (G. Goldberg + Associates)

• Stanley Tigerman (Tigerman McCurry Architects)

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The results of the competition revealed that the competition was highly successful, in that it elicited a range of ideas, which were not only at the highest creative level, but quite doable.

The two winning entries were by:

Zhu Wenyi, Fu Junsheng, and Liang Yiang, Beijing, China

Aras Burak Sen, Los Angeles/UAE (OMA)

Honorable Mentions

Dániel Palotai, Budapest, Hungary

Drew Cowdrey and Trey Kirk, Boston (Harvard GSD) 


Ann Lui and Craig Reschke, Boston (Harvard GSD)


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A Conversation with an Icon: Steven Holl Wins the Mumbai City Museum Competition

 

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Winning entry by Steven Holl

The decision to stage an international competition for a “North Wing extension” to the Mumbai City Museum had to be an interesting challenge for the organizers. The present building, also known as the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (photos, left and opposite), was dedicated in 1872 and had a distinct English colonial flavor, with emphasis on the Victorian. It had recently undergone a major restoration, and the interior is certainly one of the major examples of architecture of the pre-modern age in India. With that in mind, the initial question for any structural addition—aside from space requirements—had to be: what should it look like, and how would it relate to the existing museum?

 

The space program asked for an 8,000-10,000 sqm.(approximately 120,000 sf.) extension to include a conservation centre, library and archives, and a new museum shop and cafe. The new structure was to be freestanding, and thus, not simply a background building, but an architectural statement in itself. What kind of statement was somewhat evident in the choice of the short-listed architectural firms. Not one of those selected could be called a traditionalist, and some could obviously be connected to a certain style. In any case, the participating architects did not have to be concerned about a jury panel that might be leaning toward a traditionalist solution.

 

The short-listed firms were:

• AL_A with PK Das, Arup, Turner & Townsend, GROSS. MAX and Superflux
• Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos with Malik Architecture, Arup and Empty
• OMA + S&K with Meinhardt India, Houtman + Sander, GMD Consultants and Langdon Seah
• Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects with Christopher Charles Benninger Architects (CCBA), Leslie E. Robertson Associates International (LERA), Buro Happold, WORKSHOP: Ken Smith Landscape Architect and George Sexton Associates
• Steven Holl Architects with Opolis Architects, Guy Nordenson and Associates, AECOM, Dongre Project Management Consultants, Transsolar and L’Observatoire
• Studio Mumbai Architecture + Edifice Consultants with Sterling Engineering Consultancy Services and Eskayem Consultants
• wHY with Ganti + Associates, Sterling Engineering, Sterling and Wilson, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Buro Happold, Local Projects and Quantsoft India
•Zaha Hadid Architects with Sameep Padora Associates (sP+a), AKT II, Max Fordham, Dan Pearson Studio and AECOM

 

The competition jury may have been short on architects, but was heavily represented by institutional experts from museums. One interesting choice was museum director Martin Roth, whose Victoria and Albert Museum in London had been the subject of a controversial modern extension in the 1990s by Daniel Libeskind. Initially, the Mumbai Museum was named its London V&A counterpart, but later renamed. The competition was administered by Malcolm Reading Consultants of London, a firm which has gained an international reputation for the organization of such events.

 

The jury panel consisted of:

• Sitaram Kunte – Chair of Jury, the Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai and Co-Chairman,Trustee of the Museum
• Tasneem Mehta – Deputy Chair of Jury, the Managing Trustee & Honorary Director of the Museum
• Minal Bajaj, a Director of Bajaj Auto Ltd. and a Donor Trustee of the Museum
• Shyam Benegal, a Trustee of the Museum and a prolific filmmaker
• Homi Bhabha, Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard as well as the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English
• Vishakha Desai, the Special Advisor for Global Affairs and Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University
• Rajiv Jalota, the Additional Municipal Commissioner, Projects, M.C.G.M., and Trustee of the Museum
• Sen Kapadia, founder of Sen Kapadia Associates
• Anand Mahindra, Chairman and Managing Director of the Mahindra Group
• Martin Roth, the Director of the V&A Museum in London
• Aroon Tikekar, the former President of the Asiatic Society in Mumbai, a prolific author, journalist and authority on Mumbai

 

The jury selection process lasted for three days, during which jurors examined the entries and interviewed the participating firms. In the end, the jury was unanimous in awarding the commission to Steven Holl Architects, with Amanda Levette’s AL_A firm receiving an honorable mention.

 

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The Earth as an Affordable Housing Alternative: Ghana’s Mud House Design Competition

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1st Place entry by M.A.M.O.T.H

For years, the earth has long been the basic construction material for houses in rural Ghana. Although 98% of the houses in the Abetenim area of Ashanti province—typical of warm, humid climate conditions—are made of earth, stereotypes about this building type persist because of eroding which takes place from poor construction and water damage. This has resulted in a stigma associated with mud architecture and the local perception that mud architecture is only for the poor. Instead of earth, metal and cement block have become the material of choice—at a considerable expense. In light of this problem, the Nka Foundation, a non-profit organization dealing with art and design in Africa, staged the Mud House Design Competition—to encourage designers, architects and builders to use their creativity to come up with innovative designs for modest, affordable homes that can be built locally. The focus of the design was to aim at creating a single family and semi-urban house type that would be a place to live, a place to rest, store modest belongings, and feel safe. What was the preferred construction method for the winning entries? It could be cob construction, rammed earth, mud brick, cast earth (poured earth) by formwork, or any other earth construction techniques that can be easily learned by local labor. Roofing design could be of vault, fired mud roof, or corrugated zinc sheets, which is the conventional roofing materials, because zinc roofing withstands the heavy rainfall better. As a prototype, the intended solution should be a durable mud house that promotes open source design for the continuity of building with earth for a more sustainable future. The house was to include a kitchen, living area, bedrooms and a toilet. The maximum cost of the house was to be $6,000, for which each entry was required to present a detailed budget. The Process

After a Preselection Jury of experts examined all of the entries, it was charged with shortlisting 20 for adjudication by a Grand Jury. The members of the latter were:
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• Belinda van Buiten, Utrecht, The Netherlands
• Marcio Albuquerque Buson, University of Brasilia
• Mariana Correia, Escola Superior Gallaecia, Portugal
• Toby Cumberbatch, The Cooper Union, New York
• Ahmad Hamid, Ahmad Hamid Architects, Egypt
• Rowland Keable, UNESCO Chair on Earthen Architecture
• Bruno Marques, Oporto Lusiada University, Portugal
• John Quale, Professor, University of New Mexico, USA
• Roland Rael, University of California, Berkeley
• Humberto Varum, University of Porto, Portugal

According to John Quale, he agreed to participate as a juror because he found the topic to be quite interesting. The selection process by the Grand Jury did not, however, take place face-to-face, but electronically. A web interface during the final stages of the process did occur, resulting in the final ranking of the entries. Prof. Quale found this to be an adequate method to adjudicate the designs, as this was obviously a competition with a limited budget, obviating the cost of impaneling the jury on-site. Judging criteria involved the functionality, aesthetics and technical factors to the degree to the degree that the design responded to the design program. The Winning Designs Of the short-listed projects (20), there were three winners. Jurors awarded prizes for first, second and third place consisting of a commemorative plague and cash prizes to the winning designs as follows: 1st prize—$1,500 or construction of the design in Ghana, plus a short trip to Ghana for the opening ceremony once construction is completed (in case the winner is not located in Ghana and to a maximum of 1 person); 2nd prize—Construction or $1,000 and 3rd prize—construction or $500.

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